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Delaware's CHIP program in jeopardy after Congress misses funding deadline

Delaware Public Media

Congress will miss a September 30th deadline to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as known as the CHIP program.

State lawmakers are concerned letting program funding lapse puts coverage for nearly 18,000 children in Delaware in jeopardy.

The state budget assumes federal funding for CHIP will continue. The state got $32 million dollars in program funding in the last fiscal year.

Recent studies by the independent Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) and the Kaiser Family Foundation found Delaware has enough remaining funds to keep CHIP going into early next year - but would likely run out by March.

Delaware House Health and Human Development Committee Chair David Bentz said he’s disappointed CHIP hasn’t been reauthorized yet. He says Congress should have focus on renewing the program sooner.

“But unfortunately, they’ve spent the last several months really working towards repealing Obamacare and trying to take away health insurance from millions of people and thousands here in Delaware and their priorities have really been on that - on repealing that law despite facing a deadline that has been there the whole time,” he said.

Sen. Chris Coons said he hopes Congress will move quickly to authorize the program. CHIP covers lower-income children whose families’ income exceeds Medicaid eligibility levels.

Bentz said he has confidence in Delaware leaders in Congress, but not in Republican House speaker or the Senate majority leader.

“So, I’m hopeful that they’ll get it done," he said. "I think this is an easy, no brainer sort of policy, covering children, with giving children health insurance. But, unfortunately they’ve just kind of not done their job the last couple months, been focusing on other things.”

The health committee recently sent Delaware’s congressional delegation a letter urging them to extend funding for the CHIP program by the end of September.

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